Trump suggests more farm bailouts as China purchases fall short

By Aimee Picchi

/ MoneyWatch

Ex-Trump adviser Gary Cohn: China tariffs "totally hurt the U.S."

President Donald Trump hinted Friday that more farm bailouts could be on the way, "PAID FOR OUT OF THE MASSIVE TARIFF MONEY COMING INTO THE USA."

Tariffs on imports are paid by U.S. companies and consumers, however.

The all-caps tweet comes after U.S. Department of Agriculture chief economist Robert Johansson said that U.S. agricultural exports to China will reach $14 billion in the current fiscal year ending in September, a boost of $4 billion from a year earlier. That's a far cry from the $40 billion to $50 billion in annual agricultural exports that were part of the Phase One trade deal signed in a White House ceremony in January.

Trump signs "Phase One" of limited trade deal with China

Still, even when the trade deal was signed, experts had expressed skepticism about the amount of products that China would ultimately buy. And since the deal was signed, China has been coping with the covid-19 outbreak, or the coronavirus, which has more than 76,000 confirmed cases globally and more than 2,200 deaths — most of them in China. With millions of people in quarantine in China, the country is expected to take an economic hit this year.

Trending News ›

  • Claiming the Child Tax Credit: Tips for parents
  • Wells Fargo to pay $3 billion for phony-account scandal
  • Trump suggests more farm bailouts as China purchases fall short
  • Here's when you can expect your tax refund
  • Google secretly monitors millions of schoolkids: lawsuit

Johansson, who made his comments at the Agriculture Department's annual outlook forum, said that even though economic growth in China could take a hit, it may rebound in the middle to end of 2020.

IF OUR FORMALLY TARGETED FARMERS NEED ADDITIONAL AID UNTIL SUCH TIME AS THE TRADE DEALS WITH CHINA, MEXICO, CANADA AND OTHERS FULLY KICK IN, THAT AID WILL BE PROVIDED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, PAID FOR OUT OF THE MASSIVE TARIFF MONEY COMING INTO THE USA!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2020

Mr. Trump's suggestion that any farm bailouts would be paid by "tariff money coming into the USA" implies that tariffs are paid from sources outside the U.S., but that's not the case. Even though Mr. Trump has previously falsely stated that tariffs are paid by China and other countries, the duties are paid for by U.S. importers like Walmart or Ford. They eventually swallow that cost or pass it along to American consumers.

China tariffs "totally hurt the U.S.," Gary Cohn, a former economic adviser to Mr. Trump, told Face the Nation last month.

First published on February 21, 2020 / 2:21 PM

© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.